Editor’s Note: Evening Sun reporters love to argue. Last Thursday’s story about a Norwich couple, embroiled in a domestic violence case and ultimately sent to Nevada to live with relatives, was a hot topic of debate. Here, Tyler Murphy and Jeff Genung take opposing sides on the issue. The sides were chosen arbitrarily and do not necessarily reflect the author’s true viewpoints.
TDM: First it's important to understand that the local department of social services is but an extension of a much larger system. To criticize the agency for failings that extend across the state and country is nothing but ignorant anti-welfare ranting. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, a situation without any favorable outcome, the conglomerated efforts of attorneys, social services and law enforcement led to the reality of what was in the community's best interest. What was the alternative, charge the couple with a handful of petty crimes like so many times before? Obviously not a deterrent. The system at large seems ill-equipped to handle these sort of incidents that haunt several other Norwich streets. So with limited means, limited choices and a fed up community, the local powers that be made the hard decision. At least this action will offer a more sustainable chance at giving the neighborhood some peace.
JMG: That's just it … the “powers that be” didn't make a hard decision – they made the easiest decision possible. Send 'em out of town and let someone else deal with it. If we're going to start employing a deportation policy for every miscreant that comes down the pike, we're looking at a mass exodus from Chenango County, paid for by Chenango County! The mission of Social Services as I understand it is to help all of our residents, regardless of their point of origin. How does sending this “family” to Las Vegas help them? Out of sight may indeed be out of mind, but all we've done here is foist our problem off on someone else, and at great expense. What kind of message does this send to other couples in similar situations looking for an easy out? Beat up your wife in front of your kids, and we'll buy you a plane ticket?
TDM: What message were we exactly sending before? Police responded 19 times to the residence in a 12 month period and as I recall the kids were still under the roof, the parents still fighting, the taxpayer still footing the bill and the community still suffering the fall out. You might want a repeat but it was obviously time for something different. Why don't you ask the neighbor next door or the pedestrian in the street how they feel after being liberated of these criminals? Sure, people will whine about the cost of a ticket, but how about the cost of sustaining these people indefinitely in the local criminal and welfare system? Even complaining neighbors who grumble about the cost still get to go to a safer, quieter home and tuck their children into bed. This move benefits those that pay into the system more than those that burden it. I can live with that.
JMG: The neighborhood is undoubtedly a better place without this kind of constant turmoil – but I still can't agree that shipping them out of town was the best alternative. I can only hope there's a better system of supervision or rehabilitation in Nevada than there was here. If these people had that many contacts with police, why weren't they in jail by now, and the kids in foster care? I'm all for keeping a family unit together when it's feasible, but this one clearly wasn't. In the end, we may have solved the problems of Griffin Street (temporarily), but we did nothing to solve the most glaring problem – that these people should not be allowed to raise those children in that environment. Women who stay with abusive husbands for the sake of their children – that never works, here or in Las Vegas.
TDM: You're singing a national tune to a problem beyond the scope of local authorities. I hate to reiterate but the colors on their canvas of solutions were not black and white but in shades of gray. With their hands tied by state regulations, local leaders made a local decision that benefited the local community – bravo. Your concerns should be addressed in letters to Albany, not Chenango County. Put yourself in their shoes -- the couple was scheduled to depart only 10 hours later but they had a relapse in drama. Now what? Cancel the plans that would've removed the couple from community and grind them back in the system which would've no doubt landed back on the street? The people who made the decision looked each other in the eye and knew they had a difficult call. What is your solution? All I see are criticisms and critiques made after the fact. The people in that room did not have such skeptic luxury, they are charged with making the call.
JMG: And I'm charged with paying taxes and compelled to ensure that it's money spent wisely. In this case, the short-term solution to a long-term problem won't ultimately benefit any of the parties involved. I don't care that the trip was planned in advance of their latest brawl – if they broke the law (again), they should pay the consequences. In no other cases that come before the court have I seen the “consequence” be an all-expense paid trip to Vegas. I won't pretend to know even a shred of DSS case law, but I find it hard to believe that this was the only prescribed alternative. At the end of the day, the message sent to the neighbors of Griffin Street or any similarly afflicted community is that mob mentality rules, and the message sent to dysfunctional families is that crime really can pay – or at least its consequences avoided if you work that angle effectively.